Normalizing the Ideal: Psychology, Schooling, and the Family in Postwar Canada

Normalizing the Ideal: Psychology, Schooling, and the Family in Postwar Canada

by Mona Gleason


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Homemaker mom, breadwinning dad who played hockey with his son on the weekends, one brother or sister, this was normal Canadian life in the fifties, right? Well, not quite, but author Mona Gleason argues that Canadian psychologists were in part responsible for this fiction of normalcy.

Postwar insecurity about the stability of family life became a platform on which to elevate the role of psychologists in society. Moving outside the universities with radio shows and child-rearing manuals, these figures of authority changed the tenor of parental and familial concern from physical to mental health. Influential psychologists like Samuel Laycock and William Blatz spread their own vision of life as the healthy goal for which society should strive. Their ideal of 'normal' reflected and helped entrench the dominant white, Anglo-Celtic, patriarchal vision of life. Those who did not fit the model due to skin colour, class, or ethnicity were marginalized or silenced, and, as Gleason's innovative feminist approach emphasizes, whether male or female, simply trying to fit within the prescribed gender roles inevitably led to alienation.

This history of psychology and its effects asks new and necessary questions about the role of the social sciences in shaping the private experiences of ordinary Canadians.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802044792
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Publication date: 11/27/1999
Series: Studies in Gender and History Series
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.29(h) x 0.77(d)

About the Author

Mona Gleason recently completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia.

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